High-scoring Ricci Rivero ineligible for MVP award, but insists main focus on LSGH title bid
Ricci Rivero's ejection in a game during the elimination round of the NCAA juniors basketball tournament makes him ineligible to win the MVP award. Reuben Terrado

RICCI Rivero regrets not having a chance to win the MVP award in the NCAA Season 91 juniors basketball tournament, but made it clear his main goal is to lead La Salle Greenhills to the title in his final year with the team.

Rivero posted outstanding numbers for the Junior Blazers during the elimination round, finishing with averages of 25.41 points, 8.76 rebounds, 2.76 assists, 2.41 steals, and 1.88 blocks.

La Salle, likewise, remains on track to win the title after beating Lyceum in the playoffs for the fourth and last berth in the Final Four on Tuesday after both teams finished the eliminations with similar 11-7 cards.

The brother of La Salle Green Archers stalwart Prince Rivero, however, is already disqualified from winning the MVP award after he was ejected in a game during the first round of the competition.

The 17-year-old Rivero admitted what happened was also a lesson for him.

“Siyempre, malaking hinayang din kasi hindi ko makukuha. Pero ang importante naman is safe kaming lahat sa team. Siguro lesson learned na rin,” he said.

With the individual award behind him, Rivero is now focused on helping the Junior Blazers win the title. The path to the championship isn’t easy, though.

La Salle plays third seed Arellano to begin the stepladder phase on Friday, before the winner faces second-seed Mapua, which enjoys a twice-to-beat advantage.

It won’t get any easier in the finals, with defending champion San Beda having a thrice-to-beat edge against the team which will emerge from the stepladder phase.

The Red Cubs clinched an outright finals berth by sweeping all of their 18 games in the elimination round.

Rivero, however, is unfazed.

“Same lang din,” said Rivero, referring to their mindset when they played Lyceum in the playoff for the last semis berth. “Hindi naman agad kami nag-eexpect na mananalo kami pero gagawin lang namin sinasabi ng coaches namin and play for God and play as a team.”

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